Pyramid Lanterns





Introduction: Pyramid Lanterns

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For Burning Man 2007, my friends Stephen and Mary wanted to create some beautiful standing lanterns that would glow at night. They asked me to draw some designs for them, so I've written up how they did it as an Instructable.

The pictures below are the lanterns in various locations: In our living room (where they've now been retired, hanging from the bridge at Priceless, and out on the playa at Burning Man.

Read on to see how they made them!

Step 1: Draw Up Some Designs

Alas, this was my only involvement with the project. I sketched out some designs on pencil and paper and then scanned them in. Once digitized, I was able to clean them up somewhat for transfer to the plywood, which is on the next step.

Step 2: Transfer the Designs to Plywood

This was simple: we set an LCD projector on its side, opened the drawings up on a laptop, and projected them up on sheets of plywood. The designs were then just traced right on.

Step 3: Cut Out the Designs

The wood was cut into triangles and then the designs were painstakingly routed out of each one. This seemed to be the biggest pain-in-the-ass step, and Stephen says that he went through a lot of router bits to make all the lanterns.

Once cut out, the designs were sanded roughly to make the curves a little smoother.

Here are three more photos of the tracing/cutting process:

Step 4: Stain the Wood

Stephen and Mary added some stain to the wooden sides to make them darker and to weatherproof them.

Step 5: Add Hinges and Backing Fabric

Each Pyramid is composed of three triangles, with hinges between. That makes them easy to transport, since they open up flat. Stephen and mary added metal hinges along two edges to make the three triangles into one flat piece. The outside edges were given screw-and-wire-loop hardware to make the whole lanterns easy to assemble and disassemble.

They then added a white fabric to the back of the triptych, to diffuse the light bulb light that would be coming from inside.

The lanterns are assembled by folding them up into pyramids and hooking the wires over the screws. naked light bulbs with simple fixtures are then suspended inside.

Step 6: Finished!

That's it! The pyramid lanterns have added some quiet beauty to many events, now.



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    You mean power? We had a generator running nearby.

    How did you keep the lanterns light overnight on the playa? I'm trying to think of ways to decorate my camp for burning man this year :)

    so unreal... a master piece

    If you are going to do multiples of the same design, I have a suggestion: use the projector to make masonite templates. They'll be easy to handle, and easy to trace onto the plywood, instead of relying on freehand tracing.

    Just wanted to say great idea!! I just made some stencils out of cardboard and I am attempting this project tomorrow!

    1 reply

    Hey, awesome. I'd love to see some pix of the result if you ever did this. You can post them right to this comment thread.

    I love that tattoo!

    These remind me of the Flaming Lotus Girls sculptures from a few years back... very nice!! I want to make something similar now! I suppose I'll see these at priceless in a few weeks!

    wow these are awesome! thanks!

    It's very nice I will try to make one in small size

    This is beautiful. I don't have a projector or any type of wood-cutting tools but will certainly make one or two of these if I see those things on freecycle. Thanks for posting such a wonderful project!

    Holy cow man, if I'm correct in assuming thats 1/2" plywood that would be insane to do only using a router(all the plunge cuts/bits/TIME!) Did he maybe use a jigsaw for some of the bigger ones?

    1 reply

    Yes, it was truly insane. I tried to convince him to use a jigsaw, but he really wanted that extra bit of precision!

    Quite interesting. This is definitely has a lot of possibilities just in changing the size alone.

    I didn't know you could feature people. Good job by the way.